Weekly Feminist Reader

A kicker was booted from a high-school football team in Georgia because of her gender.
A Pakistani senator defends the fact that women were buried alive in his district as “tribal custom.”
Monica Roberts has video interviews with Isis, the first trans contestant on Top Model.
MzBitca has a plea: leave Amy Winehouse alone!
A clearly innovative and forward-thinking family counselor goes on Oprah to tell women it’s their fault if their husbands cheat.
Broadsheet discusses a new blog, called What to Expect When You’re Aborting.
Katie Couric on how her nightly news hosting gig has been difficult.
In These Times on why soldiers rape. And Col. Ann Wright has another piece on the possible cover-ups related to two female soldiers’ suicides.

Conservative blog The Next Right calculates which campaign pays its female staffers better.
Nadra Kareem on white feminists and Michelle Obama.
Renee discusses a new film on the global sex trade, Buying Back My Daughter.
Tara Parker-Pope considers whether doctors view all women as “pre-pregnant.”
Lauren at Feministe on Sarah Palin and the “drink America’s milkshake” party.
Protect yourself– from John McCain.
Sara at F-Words has yet another installment of Hillary Sexism Watch.
Due to new, harsh anti-immigration ordinances, Denver’s Latino residents are afraid to drive downtown, let alone attend the DNC.
Doctors discuss the impact of arrest and detention on immigrant women’s health.
John McCain has no poverty plan.
Actions and Events
The Sioux Falls, South Dakota domestic-violence shelter My Sister’s Friend’s House (Mita Maske Ti Ki) is in danger of closing. Click here to donate.
Sexuality educators Logan Levkoff and Martha Kempner are conducting an (anonymous) survey of how women experienced sex in their teens. Click here to take the survey.
Help secure funding for a project to assist women in recovering from and rebuilding after war. Vote for the project here.
Nezua on how to help in the wake of the Mississippi immigration raids.
Check out the Gustav Information Center, “an online community for coordinating volunteer knowledge-sharing related to Hurricane Gustav.” Also check out the GustavWiki, and this request for support from INCITE, which is helping low-income women of color on the Gulf Coast.

Join the Conversation

  • a.k.a UltraMagnus

    ‘If a husband has already cheated, his wife’s role is to recognise that she needs to change,’ added Neuman.
    NO. NO. NO IT’S NOT!!!
    What the fuck is up with all of these books coming about trying to blame women for men’s behavior? Seriously, what the fuck? Why is it so hard in 2008 to recognize that MEN CAN CONTROL THEMSELVES! Grrrrrrrrr.
    ‘But men will eventually find their way into the arms of another if they are not getting enough sex at home. Sex for men is the equivalent of the loving comment and thoughtful gesture for the woman. In short, when you give what your husband wants, he’ll give a great deal back to you.’
    And women don’t like sex? Women just have sex so that their husbands won’t run off and hump the first available woman and they’ll get what? A pat on the head as a thoughtful gesture? The stupid, it burns.

  • Logrus

    Amy Winehouse: I’ll admit it, I’ve thought and said horrible things about her descent into addiction and probably an eventual death. I guess it’s because when I first heard her music I was actually happy to hear a really great singer doing something that made me enthusiastic about a genre that I hadn’t really given a shit about since “The Commitments”. Now I get angry by what I see as such a waste of ability and talent. It’s like I’m grieving for a loved one.

  • JosephLillo

    ‘…[s]ex for men is the equivalent of the loving comment and thoughtful gesture for the woman. In short, when you give what your husband wants, he’ll give a great deal back to you.’
    Wow. WOW.
    I am not a rutting animal. I am not only as loyal as my sexual options are feasible, and most of all, I am not a penis attached to an auxiliary unit, and I seriously resent being thought of as such.

  • Jeffrey

    On sexual assault in the military:
    In the 90s a retired army psychologist published a book, On Killing, about the modern military’s efforts to create a killing machine. He argued that in the process of training soldiers to kill, the Pentagon (and militaries around the world) has managed to turn the majority of soldiers into partial psychopaths (specifically, they remove their ability to feel remorse, shame, or responsibility for their actions beyond what mere wartime propaganda can do). I suspect that the rededication of the military to close quarter violence in the last eight years has contributed to the atrocious number of rapes in the military.

  • JohnJ

    “It’s like dog training a man.”
    Seems to me that it’s more like dog training a woman. Men cheat for one very specific reason: domination, which is nothing more than an act of hatred against all women.

  • Lilly

    “But men will eventually find their way into the arms of another if they are not getting enough sex at home. Sex for men is the equivalent of the loving comment and thoughtful gesture for the woman. In short, when you give what your husband wants, he’ll give a great deal back to you.”
    My friend once used this explanation to somehow console me over the fact that my dad was leaving my mom.

  • FuckDecaf

    At the risk of endorsing this Gary Neuman guy (although I did enjoy Cars,) I find it hard to place all the blame on the cheating spouse in all situations.
    If one partner in the relationship is not paying attention to the emotional or sexual needs of the other, and honest communication doesn’t change that, it should not be surprising that the other partner looks elsewhere.
    When my mother had an affair (my parents have since divorced,) I was angry with her for the betrayal, but I was also angry with my father for years of being the kind of inattentive, emotionally and romantically absent husband that made Mr. X seem like an appealing alternative.

  • wax_ghost

    FuckDecaf, is it really that hard to break things off with the first person before moving on to another?

  • Lala

    The girl should be allowed to play on the football if she has the ability especially as a kicker. That irks me to no end. They can’t even argue she going against bigger players because a kicker primarily competes against themselves. Its a skill that I see a lot of girls who play soccer being able to master.
    Annie Winehouse needs help but I’m done with her.
    Kathie Couric. I’m sorry she may have been America’s sweetheart but she is terrible anchoring the news.

  • http://rufreeyet.blogspot.com jstein

    Lala, I second the comments on Couric. There are alot of great women in the news (Lara Logan and Rachel Maddow being the two names that immediately jump to my mind), but Katie Couric drives me nuts. (“Does being on a ticket with Hilary just make you go ewwww…?”)
    I have seen the Pakistani issue, and that’s really tragic, not simply that women died, but that this asshat seems to think it’s okay just because people have done it for a long time.
    Also, what should be added is that McCain has delayed the Convention because of Hurrican Gustave. Maybe now he’ll come up with a poverty plan (or maybe he can just do some more political posturing).

  • Mariella

    Gary Neuman has been on Oprah before but I don’t think he’s on her show for this is he (please god…)?
    @FuckDecaf: I agree that all the blame for what went wrong doesn’t always go exclusively on the person who cheated. If there were underlying problems in the relationship, which there often are when someone cheats, both people are responsible for that. But cheating isn’t ever ok, problems need to be dealt with inside the relationship or the relationship needs to end.
    But that’s not even really the point: Neuman is saying that to prevent men from cheating, women have to have sex on demand, stop their husbands from going out alone and many other things that are demeaning to both men and women and don’t encourage honest and mature relationships.

  • Nakia

    Men cheat even when there is sex on demand, and there are probably more reasons for cheating than not getting any. My husband is cheating in part because I won’t commit adultery, and part because marriages require work and maturity that he wasn’t terribly interested in.

  • Mariella

    “I am not a penis attached to an auxiliary unit, and I seriously resent being thought of as such.”
    amen. this kind of bullshit is so insulting to *everyone*

  • ShifterCat

    It’d be interesting to rewrite the arguments of Gary Neuman et al. with the sexes reversed and a few other details altered — ie. to say that if a husband doesn’t leap to attend to his wife’s every whim, then he’s being the kind of neglectful spouse that any woman would run around on.
    “The tips… ‘dedicated to helping husbands’ – include: always forgiving her; giving her sex on demand; lavishing praise on her for maintaining the household and family, even if he is the primary housekeeper; rarely letting her out on her own with friends or work colleagues; and taking an interest in her hobbies.”
    “If a wife has already cheated, her husband’s role is to recognize that he needs to change.”
    “But women will eventually find their way into the arms of another if they are not getting enough compliments at home. The loving comment and thoughtful gesture for women is the equivalent of sex for men.”
    Hey, this is fun.

  • ShifterCat

    Concerning the live burials in Pakistan: is it just me or was the statement “Yasmin Shah should go to our society and see for herself what the situation is like there and then come back to raise such questions in the house,” a veiled threat?

  • nestra

    “‘If a husband has already cheated, his wife’s role is to recognise that she needs to change,’ added Neuman. ”
    Most of his ideas are hideous, but this I can agree with if it is generalized to “if one party has already cheated, the other party’s role is to recognize that he or she needs to change.”
    Let me explain. If your spouse cheats, you can leave thm, hope they change their behavior, or change your own behavior. I know leaving my not be an option for a variety of factors, but I am simplifying.
    It is childish to stay in the relationship but hope that the cheater miraculously changes the kind of person he or she is. They have already cheated. For whatever reason it happened, that is the kind of person they are. They may be able to change themselves, but you have no control or ability to make that happen.
    If you decide to stay in the relationship, the only person’s whose behavior and attitude you have any control over is your own. You could change your attitude to say that extramarital relationships are acceptible; you could change your behavior to try to keep your spouse from having the opportunity, excuse or motivation to cheat; or you coud change your behavior to ignore the signs of cheating.
    The only person you change change is yourself. To expect otherwise is to set yourself up for misery. If the change is not worth the relationship, get out of the relationship.

  • http://www.smartbunny.net smartbunny

    “there is a significant correlation between pornography circulation and rape rates”
    I’m not sure about this; do they mean in the military or in general? I mean, I am pro-pornography and I don’t think that it contributes to violence against women.
    Although there will always be psychologically messed-up people who will “use” anything as an “excuse” to be disgusting a-holes, but as far as blaming porno completely, I don’t buy it.

  • ShifterCat

    I’m with you, Smartbunny, but I’ll concede that in a military setting things might be different.
    Of course, things might change if the other measures they suggest were implemented.

  • CS

    ”with the sexes reversed and a few other details altered”
    ”Men cheat for one very specific reason: domination, which is nothing more than an act of hatred against all women.”
    Changed to:
    ”Women cheat for one very specific reason: domination, which is nothing more than an act of hatred against all men.”
    I don’t think this is terribly complicated. People cheat mainly because
    A. They aren’t very good people with moral characters
    B. They are presented with the opportunity
    C. They have been socialized to believe that it is OK and not that big a deal
    The issue with the military is pretty disturbing. I think the data being given here reflects a larger attitude which the military tries to cultivate. I agree that rape is about dominance and violence rather than some sort of sexual frenzy. I think that one of the primary purposes of basic military conditioning is to encourage a psychological resistance to the natural reluctance to commit violence and domination of another person. I think about this sort of thing every time I catch an episode of ultimate fighter. I think it is obvious that it is not natural to engage in an activity where you are rewarded for committing violence and dominating an opponent. But, I think these are becoming recognized as sources of power and valued in certain male circles. I think the kind of culture which values the suppression of natural emotional pain caused by violence and abuse of another person also produces some people who join the military for non-financial reasons. I’m not sure why, but I get the feeling that when people talk about being tough or “manning up” they are increasingly referring to this suppression of emotional pain from inflicting violence and less about getting up early, working a couple of jobs while sick to provide for your family. I think to a certain extent joining the Marines is a way for people to validate their toughness and man status. I’m not saying this is always the case since there are many reasons, but I think that there is a certain variety of person who joins for that reason.
    I think when these people get to boot camp and that value of suppression is systematically drilled into them, things become much worse. It is even more disturbing that the suppression is specifically targeted at women using violent and demeaning language. I suppose this makes sense if you think about the suppression being fundamentally male and the exact opposite (caring and sensitivity) being female. Maybe that comes from the traditional understanding of the father enforcing the rules and administering discipline and the mother reassuring and nurturing. I guess I also understand why a front-line soldier who is expected to be able to psychologically withstand killing people would need this suppression conditioned into them.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think those statistics are a symptom of a raising culture of violence in men. It’s redefinition of toughness from Lance Armstrong to a bloody ultimate fighter dominating their opponent. I think the Lance Armstrong toughness is a good value for everyone but I think the other toughness is valued by a specific type of man. I think that toughness from suppression is a value which comes from the military and has moved into civilian life by people who view the military as one of the last sources of male identity and space. People who join the military seeking this source or those who are susceptible to violence (like previous abuse) are influenced by boot camp to value that suppression and to regard the sensitivity and natural emotion which comes from inflicting violence as weak. When drill instructors target women as objects of that weakness and emotion, the stage is set for violence.

  • Lala

    All my life I’ve heard that if a woman cheats its because her emotional needs aren’t being met so I guess this book spins that same b.s. around for men. Men and women cheat for the same reasons and those reasons vary.

  • Mariella

    “Let me explain. If your spouse cheats, you can leave thm, hope they change their behavior, or change your own behavior. I know leaving my not be an option for a variety of factors, but I am simplifying.”
    well you don’t have to just “hope” the other person changes. both people need to work on the relationship together, communicating honestly and directly. cheating is a sign that something needs to change, but that’s both people.

  • nestra

    “cheating is a sign that something needs to change, but that’s both people.”
    Possibly, but you can not change anyone but yourself. Nor is it your responsibility to.

  • ShifterCat

    One nitpick, CS: I disagree with your comparison of training to kill and training to fight a la Ultimate Fighter. I’ve watched some of the UFC fights (Mr. Shiftercat is a fan) and was pleasantly surprised: the fighters beat the snot out of one another, but when it’s over they embrace, pat one another on the back, and praise their opponent effusively. There are a few who don’t show that kind of respect, but the vast majority do. So while there’s violence, the dehumanizing of one’s enemy is largely absent.

  • gopher

    Good for the author of “What To Expect When Youre Aborting.” I think it fills a void where there is none. It is very innovative and courageous. It was very eye-opening for me.I hope her the best.

  • gopher

    I agree that Jan Mohammads comments could be construed as a subversive threat, or possibly as a subtle use of words to attempt to self-dilude himself with his illusions of being able to ‘cut down’ a powerful woman who can hand his ass back to him. It gives him his illusions of being able to have the power to subvert the impact of a powerful woman because he knows that his ass is grass (as they say).

  • FrumiousB

    @wax ghost:
    Sometimes it is, especially in a marriage. Sometimes the cheater doesn’t want to end the relationship. Sometimes that’s the because the cheater is a jerk and likes the fringe benefits, but sometimes it’s because the cheater genuinely loves the person they committed to and actually would rather be having that affair with their partner, sometimes it’s because there are children involved and breaking up the relationship would have adverse effects on them… People are complicated and do things for complicated reasons. I’m not trying to be an apologist for cheating on one’s spouse. I’m just saying sometimes things are complicated.

  • CS

    I agree with you about Ultimate Fighter. I watch it too and enjoy the excitement and the real-life martial arts they do.
    I wasn’t trying to compare training to kill in boot camp to training to fight in Ultimate Fighter. I was trying to say that they share and promote that similar value of suppression.
    Most people aren’t going to want to join the military or be a MMA fighter. But, I think, as these military or MMA type of people become role models for masculinity that suppression will move out into the normal world.
    Even though they embrace after fights and so on, do you think you could physically beat and bloody a person into submission for a living? I mean, regardless of the physical aspects, imagine the emotional capacity needed to do that. What I’m saying is that Ultimate Fighting reflects the same type of suppression formed in boot camp and provides an example for a certain type of person who honestly wants to join the military or be an ultimate fighter. The conduct of the ultimate fighters is at least not specifically hateful towards anyone but I still think it’s not a good example for those who would look to them as an example of masculinity.
    On a larger scale, I think there are a lot of issues which can be reduced to the kind of value system I’m talking about here. Think about torture. Does anyone get the sense that some of those who condone torture see it on a similar level of suppression? That, to not torture, is seen as a female weakness and vulnerability to that natural emotion I talked about earlier. And that, to torture, is masculine and treated as tough in the same way an ultimate fighter or Marine is tough (not the Armstrong tough)?

  • keshmeshi

    Considering that soldiers are taught to be killing machines in some respects, that there’s a culture of impunity in the military, especially when it comes to violence against women, and that there’s a bros before hos culture in the military, I’m kind of surprised that the rape rate isn’t higher. The whole thing is pretty much a perfect storm for denigrating and dominating women.